Synthetic biology. A tribute to S. Leduc (1853-1939, Nantes, France) and an Answer to the Return of Vitalism.Vesalius. 2015 Jun; 21(1):80-5.V
A very large number of articles about vitalism have been published since 1894 in the journal Science. Vitalism is a theory according to which living organisms appear to possess something more than inanimate objects. The "vital principle" is minted in 1778 by Barthez in "Les nouveaux éléments de la science de l'homme", (Stahl talks of phlogiston for chemistry). In their view, the life of the whole is not the simple sum of the life of the components. Such a view was hatched in response to the Cartesian mechanist interpretation of living matter as proposed by Galileo and Descartes. Vitalist intuition was revived in the XXth century by new researchers such as Henri Bergson ("l'élan vital" or 'vital force') in France and Hans Driesch ("entelechy") in Germany. Could this view of life now be making a comeback in biology?